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Litwak v. Tomko

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 17, 2017

JOHN R. LITWAK, JR. D/B/A JRL EMERGENCY SERVICES, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD E. TOMKO, MAYOR OF THE BOROUGH OF ST. CLAIR et. al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          A. Richard Caputo, United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is a Motion for Partial Dismissal (Doc. 11) of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Because the Court finds that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 9) fails to satisfy the pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court will order Plaintiff to file a repleaded Amended Complaint that comports with the Federal Rules.

         I. Background

         The well-pleaded facts as set forth in Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint (Doc. 9) are as follows:

         Plaintiff John R. Litwak, Jr. is a Pennsylvania resident who operates a towing, storage, and repair station called JRL Emergency Services (“JRL”) in St. Clair, Shenandoah, and Pottsville, Schuykill County, Pennsylvania. The Amended Complaint names as Defendants: The Borough of St. Clair (the “Borough”); Richard Tomko, as the Mayor of the Borough of St. Clair during all relevant times; James Larish, Micahel Petrozino, Joann Brennan, John Burke, Valeria Davis, and John Houseknecht as members of the Borough Council during all relevant times (Larish as Council President and Petrozino as Council Vice President); and William Dempsey, Frank DeMarco, and Joseph Leskin as Borough Police Officers at all relevant times.[1]

         A. Unlawful Seizure of Three Vehicles

         Litwak first claims that the Defendants unlawfully seized his personal property on three separate occasions. First, around February 18, 2016, Litwak's 1999 Volkswagen Jetta was towed from Litwak's private property located in St. Clair by Trial Towing Company, allegedly at the Borough's request. The Jetta is titled in the name of Litwak's business, JRL. Second, on a prior unknown date, the St. Clair police seized a 1994 Chevrolet pickup truck titled under one of Litwak's businesses while it was parked on Litwak's private property. Litwak claims this truck is being held at B's Garage in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, with towing and storage bills amounting to over $90, 000.00. Third, on another unknown date, the St. Clair police seized another 1994 Chevrolet pickup owned by Litwak while it was parked on property leased by Litwak in Gilberton, Pennsylvania. The current location of this vehicle is unknown. Litwak claims that the Borough presently retains custody of both 1994 Chevrolet pickups and refuses to return either of them. No search warrant or receipt for seized property was issued, and no “legitimate reason” was given for the seizure of any of the three vehicles.

         B. St. Clair Borough Zoning Appeal Dispute

         Litwak owns parcels of land located in the Borough that are zoned in a C-2 General Commercial District under St. Clair Zoning Ordinance 326 (the “Ordinance”). Section 5.202 of the Ordinance entitled “Uses Permitted By Right” states in relevant part:

Land and buildings in a C-2 District may be used for the following purposes and no others:
1. Retail and wholesale of goods, prepared foods, and services.
19. Motor vehicle service station, subject to:
(a) All automobile parts, dismantled vehicles and similar articles shall be stored ...

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